Bria felt immeasurably better with a full stomach. She had even treated herself to some butter pecan ice cream. Riley hated it but had bought her two tubs last night.
She decided to take her laptop out onto her private balcony to work. A lovely breeze was coming in off the ocean. Waves lightly dashed against the dark sand beach. Getting comfortable in the lounge, she opened her laptop and began to organize her plans for the next thirteen days in a spreadsheet.
Conferring with the list of fruits and vegetables the nurses at the health center had recommended, she came up with a schedule of meals she hoped would strengthen her immune system. She then searched the internet to find recipes for meals. It would have been nice if she could cook him a meal, to say thank you, but not a good idea now. Riley could fend for himself. His mother had made sure of it. She was at his mercy now for food and everything else, it seemed.
Her phone screen lit up an incoming message.
Standing in the sun outside the supermarket. It will be a while.
Bria looked at the text and wondered what to say. It was because of her he was out there. Before she could answer another one popped up.
Have you eaten? Munching on a granola bar.
She sent him a frown and immediately regretted it. His eating habits no longer needed to be her concern.
Was that fair?
He was certainly concerned about hers.
Almost to the door. I may be done by nightfall.
Bria was sorry he had to go through all this trouble for her, yet she was not mad that he was the one that was stuck in the line. She hated waiting. The delivery services had been overwhelmed and going in person had been the best option.
For the three hours it took for Riley to finally get in the store, they texted back and forth. She had laughed out loud a time or two. She had forgotten how witty and charming he could be. Two things she missed from being with him. But the separation was for the best. He would see that soon enough.
She dozed off on the couch when he said he was on his way home but woke up sneezing her head off. Bria panicked.
Suppose she died from this thing? What if she never got a chance to do all the things she wanted to do?
She wanted to go to Ghana. She should have done it last year, but they had been in the middle of a major government project and it had not been the right time to take a vacation. She wanted to be a mother but that was now out of the question.
Regret washed over her, even as she sneezed.
“Bri you okay in there? I’m leaving some medicine by the door for you. Come take it please.”
Briana checked herself in the mirror. She looked a mess. Her eyes were red, and her nose looked inflamed.
“Move away from the door please.”
“Bri, I want to see you. I’m not afraid of this thing.”
“You can’t get sick. One of us must stay well. If something happens to me you’ve got to take care of the business and…”
“And nothing. We’re doing this together, remember? That’s not changing. You’re going to fight this thing and I’m going to help you. Now open the door please.”
She put on a mask and opened the door a crack. He was there. Concern on his face. He reached out his hand to touch her but stopped. She wished he would. It would be nice if he could touch her. It had been too long.
“Hey. Take the medicine. I’ve got to go out to take care of some stuff for a bit, but I’ll be back before curfew.”
Bria stiffened. How could she forget? She had to get used to this. Him with another woman. He deserved to be happy and get everything he wanted.
“Renee?” The one word was filled with snark.
“Hold up woman! I’m going to get some greens and more eggs for us. The store was also out of flour. I didn’t want to leave you at home all this time without checking on you. And, for the record, there has been nothing between Renee and I since the day I met you. That has not changed now that you have moved out. Take the vitamin C tablets.”
She was not convinced but the sincerity in his eyes made her yearn to believe him. She nodded and reached for the paper bag with the medicine in his hand.
“Thank you.” She closed the door and went to the bathroom to read the instructions.
Riley shook his head and headed to his truck. He needed to get to the seaside market and back in an hour when the night curfew began. Fingers crossed, everyone would be where they said they would be, and he could get the vegetables and some tea bushes he wanted to try.
When he was not trading snarky comments with Bria, he had been researching the virus and natural medicines to help. He wished his mother were still alive. She knew what tea bushes were good for different ailments. He should have paid more attention when she was trying to teach him. He had no interest back then. If it was not a bike, or an engine, he did not want to know about it.
He had Bria to thank for broadening his horizons. When they met, she had insisted he take classes at the local community college. Back then, he said yes to anything that would make her smile or he could use it to win points. She had already obtained her first degree and was working on her masters. She would not even give him the courtesy of a date until he had earned his Associates. After that, he went after his bachelor’s in business. What a shocker to find out he had a knack for more than tinkering with engines and partying. Now, he owned a custom car shop and a property management business.
He would not let her down now. The test would be negative, and all would be well.
He texted her when he was on his way back, but he got no response. If she were asleep, he did not want to wake her. She had looked unwell earlier and he ached to hold her.
What a mess. He thought their five-year plan was on track. Their company had recently purchased property over in Halcyon Cove and they had already come up with concepts for the housing complex there. They wanted to build single-family homes in the area, which had been dubbed Saint Michaels next big city. Not many people believed it would live up to the name, but he and Bria did. They saw the way couples had scooped up the six townhouses in their complex. Halcyon Cove would be a good place to raise a young family. They had dreamed about starting their family soon and had also bought property on the hillside over Halcyon Cove to do so.
Being served divorce papers had hit him like a ton of bricks. Over and over, he racked his brain wondering where he had gone wrong.
What had brought them to this? How stupid could he be?
He hadn’t seen his wife was unhappy.
After entering his dark apartment, he texted her that he was back and to call if she needed him. He was intentional in his words. She did not like needing anyone and right now he was her lifeline. Riley did not want to be anywhere else.